Hi there! These are the subjects from week 47 of the 365 More People Pictures project.
Day 322 - Zach
This is Zach. We met at a park along the Columbia River.
I didn't know when I approached Zach that he's homeless, although that's not the word he would use. He described himself as being a traveler. When I asked him the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he spread his arms out wide and presented the park, the river, the picnic table, and his friend and guitar nearby and answered, "this." Whatever one would call Zach's situation, in that moment, I found it to be completely freeing and beautiful. It takes a strong, faithful and fearless person to live the life of a traveler.
I asked Zach if he had recently performed an act of kindness or if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness. Zach explained he's on both the giving and receiving end of kindness every single day. He receives sustenance from the kindness of strangers who give him food and water, and when he receives too much, he shares with the other travelers he meets. Earlier that day, he had also helped a lady in a wheelchair who was struggling to get across the street. Everyone else just watched her struggle, but Zach acted and helped her to cross the street safely.
"To be happy," Zach answered, when I asked his life's purpose.
When I asked Zach something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he answered that he's able to eat every day. He knows his lifestyle isn't easy to understand, but in going without, he actually gains so much more than some people who "have everything."
Zach explained that because he doesn't have the luxury of being able to be on a smartphone at all times, he's able to observe his surroundings and connect with people, just like the experience we were sharing at that moment. I'm grateful to this project and my desire to learn photography because it's forced me to put down my phone and look at the beauty all around.
Thank you, Zach. Safe and happy travels.
Day 323 - Mose
This is Mose. We met at the bus stop. Mose spoke so eloquently and poetically, I failed to keep up. I wish I could have paused and recorded him on video. It turned out that Mose actually is a poet.
The happiest thing happening in his life right now is his process of self-discovery.
When I asked Mose if he had recently performed an act of kindness, or if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness, he answered that he tries to perform kindness every day. He's always certain to express grace and appreciation.
The blog is behind real-time, and because of that, my memory has faded a bit. As I mentioned, Mose's speech is poetic and fluid. Imagine trying to write down every word Eminem says as he's rapping...well, it was like that with Mose. No matter how hard I try to connect the dots, I've left too many gaps in my notes, simply because I was too slow to keep up. I asked Mose his life's purpose and here are some of the quotes of which I can fully make out in my journal:
"Large scale empowerment."
"Celebrating our own achievements, the gift of life, and finding our own calling in life in their noble and sincere forms."
"Create loving actions, take it, share it, expand it."
"Find the extraordinary out of the ordinary."
"Get beyond survival, and self-actualize."
I know I'm missing out on the connectors which made this all a fluid and beautiful conversation, but I did manage to document the high points. As you can tell, Mose knows.
When I asked Mose something about himself that he would consider to be a success, he answered, "celebrating every challenge...my brilliance is my resilience."
Thank you, Mose. It was such a pleasure meeting you. I may have forgotten some of your beautiful words, but you, Sir, are completely unforgettable.
Day 324 - Kevin
This is Kevin. We met outside of Sam's Billiards.
Kevin is pretty amazing. What's not pictured here in this portrait, is Kevin's wheels. (His wheelchair.) What's also not pictured is Kevin's sheer will, guts, determination and perseverance.
I had taken Kevin's picture and asked him the 4 interview questions and was basically wrapping up and saying goodbye. I wasn't going to ask Kevin about the wheelchair, but something just felt off. It felt like failing to acknowledge Kevin's wheels would have been more disrespectful and awkward than it would be to ask Kevin his story. It just felt right to ask more questions, and learn more about Kevin and his life. Looking back, I understand that it was Kevin who put me at ease with his welcoming and friendly nature.
Kevin had Spina Bifida as a child. His life expectancy was only a few years but against all odds, he lived to grow into an adult and was even well enough to join the military. I asked Kevin if the chair was a result of combat. Kevin explained that shortly after he finished active duty, he went on vacation in Mexico to compete in a surfing competition. I know you can tell where this is leading...yes, Kevin was attacked by a shark during the middle of the competition! The shark got hold of Kevin, and as a result, Kevin ended up losing his leg.
At this point, I had to ask Kevin if he was actually being serious, or if this was the story he told to strangers. We both laughed and he said it was the real deal. He didn't have to make up a shark-attack story because he actually lived through one.
The shark took Kevin's leg, but not his spirit. Kevin feels like the shark attack was a wake-up call and now he's grateful to be alive every day. Kevin said that prior to the shark attack and before losing his leg, he was living a pretty fast life and he knows he wasn't always as nice as he should have been.
Kevin's situation has given him empathy and compassion for others and he has an entirely new perspective on people and life. I got the feeling that Kevin, pre-shark-attack, most likely wouldn't have given me the time of day had I approached him on the street and asked if I could take his picture and ask him a few questions. Had Kevin not had a group of friends waiting for him inside Sam's, I think this post-shark-attack Kevin, would have visited with me long into the evening. Kevin's outlook is so courageous and amazing, and he's clearly done a lot of work in self-examination. Of course, we can't help but feel for Kevin and wish that he hadn't experienced this loss, but I truly feel like Kevin truly feels he's a better person for enduring the loss. He went so far as to say that losing his leg in the shark attack, quite possibly saved his life. Kevin's positive outlook is an inspiration.
At the time we met, the happiest thing happening in his life was that he was out enjoying good times with his friends.
Kevin's recent act of kindness is that he's been helping a friend whose wife had just passed away. Kevin has just been trying to be there for his friend in any way that he can...which was mainly, just being there. Kevin is able to be someone else's strength and comfort because Kevin has experienced tremendous loss and grief.
"Helping people," Kevin answered, when I asked his life's purpose.
When I asked Kevin something about himself which he considers to be a success, Kevin answered, "living."
Thank you, Kevin. I didn't know you before, but the person you are now is a true class act. Wishing you the best of happiness.
Day 325 - Jake
This is Jake. The happiest thing happening in his life right now is that he's going to art school. Jake never thought art school could be a reality.
"To live my life to the fullest and create art," Jake answered, when I asked his life's purpose.
When I asked Jake something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he answered, "trying to live my life as a good person."
Thank you, Jake! Wishing you luck and success in school!
Day 326 - Greg
This is Greg. We met at a fireworks stand near Hoodsport, Washington. (The location of our little cabin in the woods, where I will most likely be living soon.)
When we met, the happiest thing happening in his life was spending the holiday weekend at home in Mason County. (Hoodsport.) He's currently living in Mexico and was happy to be home.
Greg's recent act of kindness is that he gives money away.
"To not become like everybody else," Greg answered, when I asked his life's purpose.
"That I'm not like everybody else," Greg answered with a laugh, when I asked him something about himself which he would consider to be a success.
Thank you, Greg.
Day 327 - Shilo
This is Shilo. We also met at a fireworks stand, one in which he owned and operated with the help of some of his friends.
If/when I do move to Hoodsport, I'm actually quite worried about finding subjects for this project. The town is tiny, as in, itty-bitty. Although the population swells to a few thousand people during the weekend, especially in summer months, I feel super embarrassed and unsure when approaching people in town. It feels like people are there to escape the city...not to have some weirdo asking them for their picture. The town is so small, once word gets out that there's a weirdo-woman who goes around asking people for their picture and an "interview," I'm afraid I will quickly become an unwanted pest. I'm trying to be optimistic that instead of being viewed as an unwanted pest of which to avoid, I'll be received and welcomed as a quirky person with a fun little hobby, and maybe people will even look forward to the day when it's their turn to be in the project.
Luckily, for this first real trial run, there were quite a few people in for the holiday weekend and I felt comfortable hitting up the fireworks stands in search of subjects.
"Beer," Shilo joked, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
Shilo's recent act of kindness is that he often gives away fireworks to kids.
"To be cool," Shilo answered, when I asked his life's purpose. Shilo's friend piped up and added that Shilo is the most well-known guy in town. "He's known for being cool," his friend said.
When I asked Shilo something about himself which he would consider to be a success, he answered, "just my life."
Thank you, Shilo. Mr. Cool.
Day 328 - Ashley
This is Ashley. You guessed it... we met at the fireworks stand owned and operated by Ashley and her family. I showed up right at dinner time and at first, I don't think Ashley's family was too happy to see me. I think they thought I was inviting myself to dinner when I asked what was on the grill.
Ashley was celebrating her 8-year relationship when we met, and it was the happiest thing happening in her life at the time.
"To be with my family," Ashley answered, when I asked her life's purpose.
When I asked Ashley something about herself which she would consider to be a success, she said that it was their business selling fireworks.
Thank you, Ashley.
Here's the summary of the life's purposes of the subjects from this week:
- To be happy.
- Large scale empowerment.
- Celebrating our own achievements, the gift of life, and finding our own calling in their noble and sincere forms.
- Create loving actions, take it, share it, expand it.
- Find the extraordinary out of the ordinary.
- Get beyond survival, and self actualize.
- Helping people.
- To be cool.
- To be with my family.
Thank you to every subject in this project, and thank you for following along.